Tuesday, January 14, 2014

If It's Not OK, Then It's Not The End...

Our adoption journey began in 2009.  My husband and I were always on the same page that we would only be willing to adopt domestically.  Not because we had anything against international adoption, but because our hearts were drawn to the many children here, even within driving distance, that desperately needed a family to love them too. 
In 2010, after extensive research on which domestic adoption avenue to use, we chose to become licensed foster parents and went on to also get our state adoptive license.  We quickly had our eyes opened to the foster care system and the ups and downs within it.  We had 7 children come through our home in a short span of 5 months!  We had some very difficult cases, each one stretching our strength, faith and endurance to continue. 
Our first case was two young sisters, left to fend on their own by a drug-riddled mother.  They left our home to live with their biological father.  Shortly after that, we had the baby boy whom we loved whole-heartedly and wanted desperately to adopt.  He came to us at 11 months old, beaten, with a broken collarbone.  After two months of helping him and nurturing him, he was returned to his parents purely because of a legalist paperwork mistake.  The attorney had not filed some documents correctly and charges were dropped, negating the facts that his parents were homeless and on drugs and the cause of his injuries.  We were torn apart and so frustrated with the system.  The next couple came and went quickly.  Then, in mid-December, we got the case that scared us beyond comprehension.  Two brothers, ages 7 and 10 months, were removed from their home because of extensive abuse.  I can’t even begin to tell you the horror of the situation.  What scared us though, was that the baby was barely living.  His mother had been poisoning him and at 10 months old, only weighed a mere 10 pounds.  His kidneys were failing and he was unable to retain any food.  We begged foster care to find additional help for him.  My “momma bear” came out when I felt like these boys weren’t getting the attention they desperately needed.  In the end, our voices were heard and on December 22, 2010, the boys were put in a home with a licensed nurse who saw the severity of the situation.  The baby was taken immediately to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City to seek treatment.  By Christmas of 2010, Sam and I felt like we had taken on more than we could handle.  It was heart-wrenching to release the children back into their previous situations.  We were physically and emotionally drained.  We decided then that we were going to stop being foster parents and go a more “traditional” agency route.  We researched further until we came across Adoption Center of Hope.  Adoption Center of Hope is neither an agency nor private; they are an adoption facilitation organization which works both with adoptive parents and directly with expectant birthmothers in all walks of life.  In February 2011, we signed our contract with Adoption Center of Hope and began the new journey to find our birthmother match.
But God had another plan.  Our will is not His will.
Nearly 5 months after we’d quit foster care and contracted with our new agency, we received “the call”.  Anyone who has adopted will understand.  You never forget it.  April 28th, 2011 at 3:30 pm, we got a call from a social worker.  She explained that while she realized we had quit foster care, she had a case that she thought we might be interested in.  She asked if we wanted to step back into foster care one more time.  I listened to the details and then called my husband in tears.  I was terrified!  We both were.  We really didn’t want to re-enter foster care again, and we’d just paid lots of money for our contract fees, but something inside us (God’s direction) told us to take the chance again.  We took the leap of faith!
Within 3 hours… yes, you read that right, 3 HOURS… we had our little 6-pound bundle of joy in our arms. 
 Sam holding Eli for the first time
He was 5 days old and had been abandoned at a hospital just 30 minutes from our house.  Birthmother had been on drugs when she went into labor and then less than 12 hours after having a c-section, left without ever looking back.  Because of the drug use, our little baby was kept under observation but, miraculously, did not test positive or have any issues. 
Due to state laws, we were not allowed to pursue the adoption case until he was at least 6 months old so we were put on legal guardian status.  So started the most nerve-wracking, anxious and wonderful months of our lives!!  We were new parents and we were elated, but we were also fearful to bond completely with him, afraid that our hearts would be broken again (due to past foster care experiences).  Really though, how can you protect yourself from falling completely in love with a baby in your arms?   
 First family picture
Add to that the social worker visits, paperwork and court hearings; then a paternal grandmother from another state took us to court to try and get custody of him, only to later back out.  Other than her, no family members ever came forward.  EXACTLY 6 months to the day, we filed for adoption status and 10 months and 4 days after he was born, Eli was welcomed into our family forever!  The sigh of relief we felt on that day, having those documents in our hands, is indescribable.  
 Eli at 6 months

And so our journey continues…. Eli will be turning 3 this year and is still the biggest blessing we’ve ever received.  He desperately wants to be a big brother though!  In September 2012, we re-opened our original contract with Adoption Center of Hope.  They had been wonderful to work with and had been amazingly supportive when we received Eli.  Due to our situation, they agreed to place our contract on “hold” and we lost neither contract length nor money with them. 
The last 16 months have been extremely difficult in a different way.  First, there’s been the waiting and waiting and waiting... the birthmothers that consider us as a potential match but ultimately choose another family… the excitement and then the disappointment.  Then, we were finally matched in August 2013 to a birthmother that was going to bless us with our second baby boy.  However, she turned out to have undiagnosed mental instability and other issues.  Because of this, Adoption Center of Hope found it necessary to pull us from the situation two months later.  We were left stunned.  Not only did we have to deal with our own disappointment but also telling our son that the baby brother that he had been preparing for wasn’t coming now.  By God’s profound peace and grace, we cried, prayed, and then got up, brushed ourselves off and prepared to wait some more.  Then, on December 3rd, we received a call about another potential match, needing our approval to proceed; however, there was a “catch”.  The birthmother was going into pre-term labor in 5 days due to some health complications.  The baby would only be 28 weeks gestation.  And they needed an answer by the next morning.  Oh my, the emotions we experienced!  We had my mother come pick up our son so that my husband and I could have some serious prayer and discussion time.  We prayed for God’s peace to come over us if we were to accept this situation.  We prayed for answers.  We sought wise counsel.  After 12 hours, late into the night, we decided that we did not feel God leading us in this direction.  We called Adoption Center of Hope the next morning and told them we could not accept this match.  It was extremely hard to say no but they understood completely and began the search for the adoptive family that wanted to take on this situation.  Unfortunately, we received that answer we’d been looking for 4 days later.  The baby did not survive his birth.  Even though he wasn’t ours, we were so sad for the adoptive family that had been driving to meet him.  We were sad for the birthmother.  We were sad for a future this baby would never have. 
So our journey is not over.  We do not know how long it will take to add to our family again, but we can tell you from experience that God’s timing is perfect.  Even if we don’t like to admit that.  And honestly, I don’t like to.  I am not a patient person.  I want what I want and I want it now.  But adoption doesn’t work that way.  Neither does pregnancy, parenthood or marriage. 
The main thing that I’ve learned from these experiences?  It doesn’t matter if your child is overseas in some far away land, or if they are here in the U.S. waiting to be born, or if they are in your arms but not “yours” yet… each one is hard.  Each one includes waiting, patience and prayer.  You have given your heart to another and you have little to no control over the situation.  Life is full of uncertainties, but even though we may not understand, God’s got it all worked out in the end.  Therefore, if it’s not OK in your situation right now, take heart!  It’s not the end yet.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “… plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

Christmas 2013
Jenny Madsen is a full-time mom to a highly active, exceptionally smart, almost-3-year-old little boy, Elijah.  She has been married to her amazing husband, Sam, for nearly 10 years and can’t imagine a better partner in life or parenting.  She will be celebrating a milestone birthday this year and can think of no better present than becoming a family of 4. 

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